Globalising Your ERP System…
There are dozens of adages for how to ensure your company is successful: ‘think global, act local’ being one of them. But what does this mean in practical terms? And as a professional services firm hungry for growth and success across the globe, where do you begin?
All firms that operate globally want to have concise, accurate information that enables them to monitor their organisational performance, which in turn means business decisions can be based on facts. The truth of the matter is that deploying processes and a global ERP system which allow you to operate in this way can be challenging, daunting and more often than not, unpopular amongst everyday users. However, the benefits are there for all to see and make it a challenge worth conquering:
- You can stream line your front and back office processes.
- Report in one currency, or many.
- You can carry out intercompany transactions accurately and easily.
- Resource planning can be looked at from a global perspective, decreasing the need for contractors.
- Stricter accounting procedures.
- Enables you to consolidate your financials.
- Increase overall visibility of your business, whether that be by region, discipline or department.
- Management packs can be developed, scheduled and emailed out on demand.
- Decrease IT and system costs.
- Increased security.
- Improved system reliability.
I believe that ‘going global’ with your system deployment can be broken down in to 3 parts. To start with you need to choose a robust ERP system that is scalable and that has industry leading multicompany and multicurrency functionality. Secondly you need your ERP set up simply and rolled out with the crawl, walk and then run philosophy very much at the heart of it. When rolling out to multiple countries the most important function is to have your ERP core model right – consult stakeholders and build the heart of the system to meet your overall business objectives and key processes. From there, adding localisation requirements to meet local GAAP etc. should be tackled in a case by case manner. It is important that your system still talks the language of local offices, streamlines the way they do business and offers tangible benefits at both a head office AND local level.
All areas of an ERP should be justifiable, and by that I mean due thought has gone into ‘why do we need to gather that information?’ To aid adoption, other areas of the business both regional and departmental, need be consulted and listened to. Lastly, change management; regrettably I would say this is an area that really isn’t given enough attention by ERP companies. Every successful global deployment I have been involved with has from the top down universal buy into what the company is looking to achieve. Unfortunately, there are no short cuts, time has to be spent discussing how they can benefit from existing systems and process, and what the resulting benefit will be. Amongst our client base we have many examples of firms tackling this process and succeeding. One example is from the international project, program and construction management firm Hill International, “To overcome the challenges associated with user adoption on such a huge scale, we made an effort to sit down with each office and show them exactly why this solution was important. Not just to [corporate], but also to the individual country managers and staff. We would not have been successful by storming in and saying ‘This is the U.S. way to do it’ and then forcing them to comply. Instead, by showing how Deltek was a benefit to each office management, we promoted the solution as a personal benefit too”, comments Shawn Pressley, SVP and CIO at Hill International.
Sadly there is no easy route or quick fix. I would love to say leave it entirely to the experts, but if you want a truly successful global ERP system everybody has to see the benefits and be bought in from the ground up.